Moar #balisebooks

Where The Drowned Girls Go – Seanan McGuire

What happens in… the other school?

This is the book 7 of the Wayward Children series, and I still love that universe to infinity and beyond. Besides Miss Eleonor’s Home for Wayward Children, there exists another school for the kids who crossed a door, came back, and are trying to re-adjust to Earth life. Contrarily to the Home, the Whitethorn Institute is trying to re-adjust kids by trying to make them forget their adventures, and making them believe they never happened. And Cora, who we met in the previous books, just transferred there – because she believes life will be more bearable there. But then, obviously, it’s complicated. And the headmaster is kind of shady. A good addition to the series, although I kind of regretted not spending more time in beyond-the-doors universes.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V.E. Schwab

What if living forever came with the curse of being forgotten by everyone?

At the beginning of the 18th century, Addie makes a deal for her freedom from a marriage she doesn’t want. The terms of the deal und up being an… interesting curse – she gets to live for as long a time as she can bear… and in exchange, she gets forgotten by anyone as soon as they leave the room. We follow Addie’s life until the 21st century, a time where she finally meets someone who recognizes her. The novel is written in the perspective of all the events and lives that Addie has lived, in different times, and crossing the paths of many people, and some people many times. I really enjoyed the journey of this book and the reflection it triggered for me about life, time, creativity, relationships and personal impact on the world.

Hunt the Stars – Jessie Mihalik

What can POSSIBLY go wrong when you’re a bounty hunter hired by your sworn enemy?

Yay, a new series by Jessie Mihalik! (I still need to read Rogue Queen, but Consortium Rebellion was very cool ­čÖé ). The narrator of the series, Octavia “Tavi” Zarola, is a bounty hunter and captain of a small crew, who was her team when she was fighting in the war. Torran Fletcher was a general on The Other Side Of The War That Just Ended – with the telepathic race of that corner of the universe. He’s also very good looking, apparently, and he has enough credits to hire Tavi’s crew and ship for a mission behind ex-enemy lines to recover unknown precious cargo. All in all, a pretty cool story, a nice slow-burn romance, and interesting considerations around telepathy and consent.

This book also made me realize that I really, really enjoyed what I’d call “descriptions of domesticity in a group of adults living together” – this is also a strong background for many of Becky Chambers’ books, and possibly why I appreciate some post-apocalyptic settings where the protagonists kind of have to stick together to survive.

Again, Rachel – Marian Keyes

Twenty years after Rachel’s Holidays, Rachel has it mostly figured out, until…

Marian Keyes is one of my “auto-buy” authors. I like her blend of light and tough topics, and the fact that I can chuckle one page and wipe a tear on the next chapter. The Walsh family is pretty familiar by now (it’s the 7th book in that setting), and we’re going back to Rachel’s story. Twenty years ago, Rachel was entering rehab, “not because she has a problem, see, but…”. At the start of this book, she’s clean, in love, working as a counselor in her ex-rehab center and gardening on her free time. Until one day she gets a phone call that pulls her down memory lane.

It was a tough book at times – there are stories about addiction, and about what can drive people to that, and without spoiling things too much, you may want to have a look at content warnings if some themes are hard for you. But as it was, it was exactly what I expected from Keyes, and I immensely enjoyed reconnecting with Rachel.

For the Love of April French – Penny Aimes

A kinky romance between a Black millionaire and a trans woman; it’s actually sweeter than it is kinky, and it’s significantly kinky. Not going to say much about this one, because I’m self-conscious, but I really enjoyed it (both characters are fantastic), so it felt wrong to not even mention it ­čÖé

For We Are Many – Dennis E. Taylor

More Bobs, more adventures, oh my!

In the first book of the Bobiverse, we met Bob, who by a series of accidents ends up becoming the brain of a Von Neumann probe fighting against a theocracy and exploring the galaxy where no one has gone before (well, unless the apparent gazillion of other extraterrestrial lives that seem to exist in the galaxy). In For We Are Many, we follow the continued adventures of all the Bobs who, in the meantime, have solved multiple problems such as FTL communication (useful) but sometimes struggle with their different self-imposed missions. This stays a very enjoyable story, with a special mention to the audiobook narrator, Ray Porter, who gives a pretty recognizable tone and cadence to all the Bobs and all the other characters – very impressive. I am, however, not convinced by his rendition of women voices – of which there are, however, not that many (not that it’s a good thing in general, but in that case… mixed blessing, I guess ­čÖé ). It made me laugh out loud more than a few times, and I’m looking forward to the third book.

52Frames – 2022-10 – Low key

Close-up of a hand in low-light, where the knuckles are displayed as if they were hills

The theme for this week’s 52Frames was “Low key”, with an additional (claimed) challenge for “Bodyscape”. I don’t have much courage nor interest to take pictures of body parts other than hands, but I got the idea of making a hilly landscape out of my knuckles. I lit it from behind with lume cube and a yellow/orange filter to yield an impression of sunrise/sunset (I titled that picture “Sunrise on Knuckles Hills” for 52Frames ­čÖé ) and shipped it with fairly minimal processing.

Scavenger Hunt #34 – Lemon

Paradeplatz in black&white; a "Blue Lemon" shop is visible at the forefront with the lemon in its logo being the first visibly colored element of the picture.

My goal with Hunt 34 was to do something closer to a “real” Scavenger Hunt and to take all my shots outside in the city. I have a mix of “found shots” and “places I know where I’ll be able to take a shot” for this round, and that felt pretty good. I also have a new, more compact camera than my Pentax “monster” – so I also wanted the opportunity to shoot with it more and get more comfortable with it: my other goal for this Hunt was “everything shot with the Fuji”.

I expected to be in a bit of trouble with “Lemon” – should I bring a random lemon to a location? Or try to find a restaurant with “Lemon” in its name and go from there? (I knew at least some places with “Lemongrass” in the name.) So I actually searched on Google Maps for, well, “lemon”. And there’s a shop called “Blue Lemon” on one of the iconic squares of Z├╝rich, Paradeplatz. I felt a bit self-conscious taking pictures in that place – lots of people, and feeling a bit weird about taking pictures of that shop! I finally landed on the following picture. Since I wanted the theme to be obvious and not hidden somewhere in the image, I went for the selective coloring of the lemon in post. And since I like Easter eggs, I also re-saturated te blue to get the faint blue at the bottom of the tram too ­čśë

Paradeplatz: shops on the side of the square, tram line, tram and crane.
CameraFujifilm X-30 II
LensFujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
Focal length18mm
F-NumberF/13
Exposure time1/40s
ISO2000

The complete Scavenger album is available here: the Lemon album.

Scavenger Hunt #34 – Juxtaposition

A triangle in a concrete building showing a much older building behind it

My goal with Hunt 34 was to do something closer to a “real” Scavenger Hunt and to take all my shots outside in the city. I have a mix of “found shots” and “places I know where I’ll be able to take a shot” for this round, and that felt pretty good. I also have a new, more compact camera than my Pentax “monster” – so I also wanted the opportunity to shoot with it more and get more comfortable with it: my other goal for this Hunt was “everything shot with the Fuji”.

I think “Juxtaposition” was not a shot that I had planned before I left the apartment, but it came to me when I arrived in the vicinity of the Landesmuseum – I remembered that there was some controversy about the extension of the museum, at least partly because it was supposed to be a building contrasting greatly with the older, end-of-19th century building. Remembering that, I wondered if there was a way to maybe show both in the picture – and it turns out that, probably by design, there was! I took a short walk around the place and took a number of pictures; this one ended up being my favorite. I also like the presence of the tree – which would be better if I had taken that picture in the summer and not in the dread of winter, probably! – to add a second element of juxtaposition.

A triangle in a concrete building showing a much older building behind it
CameraFujifilm X-30 II
LensFujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
Focal length18 mm
F-NumberF/10
Exposure time1/60s
ISO1250

The complete Scavenger album is available here: the Juxtaposition album.

Scavenger Hunt #34 – Paint

Fa├žade of the Schweizer Heimatwerk, with a wall painting by Wilhelm Hart showing a man on a rowboat and a woman holding goods on her head.

My goal with Hunt 34 was to do something closer to a “real” Scavenger Hunt and to take all my shots outside in the city. I have a mix of “found shots” and “places I know where I’ll be able to take a shot” for this round, and that felt pretty good. I also have a new, more compact camera than my Pentax “monster” – so I also wanted the opportunity to shoot with it more and get more comfortable with it: my other goal for this Hunt was “everything shot with the Fuji”.

“Paint” was one of these “found shots”. I knew there was multiple places in Z├╝rich with painted fa├žades, so I wasn’t too worried about finding which. It turns out that this mural is on the fa├žade of the Schweizer Heimwerk, a shop that sells “Swiss stuff”, and it seemed like a good idea for my overarching theme. I framed it with the windows, the pipe on the left and the stairs/catwalk in the bottom to give a better sense of location.

Since then, I also looked into the origin of this painting. It was painted in 1939 by Wilhelm Hartung, who also painted numerous other fa├žades in the city (including one very close to my apartment!), and I apparently have a Wikipedia page to translate to French and English ­čśë

Here’s the original picture I took, from the other side of the Limmat:

Fa├žade of the Schweizer Heimatwerk, with a wall painting by Wilhelm Hart showing a man on a rowboat and a woman holding goods on her head.
CameraFujifilm X-30 II
LensFujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
Focal length88 mm
F-NumberF/6.4
Exposure time1/100 s
ISO250

The complete Scavenger album is available here: the Paint album.

Scavenger Hunt #34 – Chaotic

Blurry reflection of a building and blue sky in moving waters

My goal with Hunt 34 was to do something closer to a “real” Scavenger Hunt and to take all my shots outside in the city. I have a mix of “found shots” and “places I know where I’ll be able to take a shot” for this round, and that felt pretty good. I also have a new, more compact camera than my Pentax “monster” – so I also wanted the opportunity to shoot with it more and get more comfortable with it: my other goal for this Hunt was “everything shot with the Fuji”.

I had another word in mind when I shot around that place, but I still think this works for “Chaotic” – at least when it comes to the chaotic nature of fluid dynamics ­čśë This is a reflection of building along the Limmat. I don’t remember the exact timing of this picture, but I remember spending some time chasing reflections, and being very happy when a police motorboat started adding perturbation to the mix. Retrospectively, I kind of regret not cropping that shot in a way that would make it more abstract as it is there, but I think it fits the “Z├╝rich” theme better that way.

Blurry reflection of a building and blue sky in moving waters - unprocessed and somewhat unsaturated
CameraFujifilm X-30 II
LensFujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
Focal length56 mm
F-NumberF/9
Exposure time1/60 s
ISO800

The complete Scavenger album is available here: the Chaotic album.

Scavenger Hunt #34 – Glass

Prime Tower, as seen from its main entrance, looking up.

My goal with Hunt 34 was to do something closer to a “real” Scavenger Hunt and to take all my shots outside in the city. I have a mix of “found shots” and “places I know where I’ll be able to take a shot” for this round, and that felt pretty good. I also have a new, more compact camera than my Pentax “monster” – so I also wanted the opportunity to shoot with it more and get more comfortable with it: my other goal for this Hunt was “everything shot with the Fuji”.

The “Glass” shot was very much a “I know what I’m going for” type of shot: “Z├╝rich + Glass = Prime Tower”. So I went to the Prime Tower, and spent an hour or so turning around it and taking pictures from all possible angles, with and without polarizer (this one is probably “with”). I finally opted for a fairly typical view of the tower, but I’m happy with the texture of the windows and I think that it’s a good shot – although I regret cropping it that tight on the top edge. Live and learn. There’s not much between the out-of-the-camera shot (below) and my final image:

Prime Tower, as seen from its main entrance, looking up.
CameraFujifilm X-30 II
LensFujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
Focal lengthmm
F-NumberF/13
Exposure time1/80s
ISO800

The complete Scavenger album is available here: the Glass album.

Scavenger Hunt #34 – Texture

Rows of chocolate truffles

My goal with Hunt 34 was to do something closer to a “real” Scavenger Hunt and to take all my shots outside in the city. I have a mix of “found shots” and “places I know where I’ll be able to take a shot” for this round, and that felt pretty good. I also have a new, more compact camera than my Pentax “monster” – so I also wanted the opportunity to shoot with it more and get more comfortable with it: my other goal for this Hunt was “everything shot with the Fuji”.

“Texture” was definitely in that second category of “I know where I’m getting that” of shots. Well, first I had to come up with the idea (and what better idea than “chocolate” to represent Z├╝rich as a texture?), but once I had it, I knew… because I made a similar shot five years ago:

Other rows of chocolate

These pictures are taken at Teuscher, which has a spectacular display – and that I hadn’t tasted yet. Well, I took the pictures on a Saturday instead of a Sunday for the first one, so this time I actually pushed their door to get a small of truffles, got out with a large box of truffles, a little one and a bag of salted butter caramels – oooops. Totally worth it, though, everything was delicious. I see why they are well-regarded as one of the best addresses in Z├╝rich, Switzerland and the world.

Photography-wise, since I knew what I wanted to do, I also knew I needed a polarizing filter – so that’s my first post-Fuji-buy equipment investment, because OF COURSE I have 3 or 4 polarizing filters already but the Fuji lens’ diameter is not compatible.

Since I wanted “texture”, it kind of meant trying to have as little distractions as possible on the image – in particular avoiding the display shelf line of the pictures 5 years ago. I didn’t take as many shots as I would have liked because it was Saturday an the shop was open and I felt self-conscious, but I still managed to get something I could work with:

Rows of chocolate truffles, before cropping and processing.
CameraFujifilm X-30 II
LensFujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
Focal length56 mm
F-NumberF/6.4
Exposure time1/25s
ISO800

The complete Scavenger album is available here: the Texture album.

Scavenger Hunt #34 – Bridge

Z├╝rich from the M├╝nsterbr├╝cke, with a view of Grossm├╝nster, the two-tower church of the city.

My goal with Hunt 34 was to do something closer to a “real” Scavenger Hunt and to take all my shots outside in the city. I have a mix of “found shots” and “places I know where I’ll be able to take a shot” for this round, and that felt pretty good. I also have a new, more compact camera than my Pentax “monster” – so I also wanted the opportunity to shoot with it more and get more comfortable with it: my other goal for this Hunt was “everything shot with the Fuji”.

“Bridge” was pretty much a given for a “main view” of the city that would come in play for the final “collect your images” picture – I wanted to go for a postcard type of views. I waited for a tram to drive by – because you can’t have a proper view of Z├╝rich without a tram – and took a few pictures. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t as clear as I would have hoped over the Alps in the background. Even more unfortunately, the weather was much better the next week, I was in that area… and I didn’t think of re-shooting that picture!

Anyway – that’s the original image – it has bluer tones, it’s somewhat crooked, and the background is less visible; those were the main edits on that picture.

Z├╝rich from the M├╝nsterbr├╝cke, with a view of Grossm├╝nster, the two-tower church of the city.
CameraFujifilm X-30 II
LensFujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
Focal length18 mm
F-NumberF/6.4
Exposure time1/100 s
ISO160

The complete Scavenger album is available here: the Bridge album.

Scavenger Hunt #34 – Crack

Close-up of cracks in a sidewalk

My goal with Hunt 34 was to do something closer to a “real” Scavenger Hunt and to take all my shots outside in the city. I have a mix of “found shots” and “places I know where I’ll be able to take a shot” for this round, and that felt pretty good. I also have a new, more compact camera than my Pentax “monster” – so I also wanted the opportunity to shoot with it more and get more comfortable with it: my other goal for this Hunt was “everything shot with the Fuji”.

For “Crack”, I was very much in the “looking around to see if I can find something” mode. I was expecting to find it on a wall, but I found it on the floor – that’s a detail from a sidewalk. I liked the geometry of these, and the fact that there was one that was slightly larger than the others.

The initial shot is very, very close from what I submitted:

Close-up of cracks in a sidewalk
CameraFujifilm X-30 II
LensFujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
Focal length56 mm
F-NumberF/6.4
Exposure time1/50 s
ISO640

The complete Scavenger album is available here: the Crack album.